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Collapsing Horse theatre company are here to compel you. They create entertaining, provocative theatre through different artistic disciplines, and they have ambitious plans afoot; one of these comes in the shape of The Aeneid.
The Aenied is a new play within an old story. A fantasy filled with the supernatural, with Gods and sea creatures; vicious battles; tragic love stories and other wonderful and improbable things ‘everything that we love’, explains Director, Dan Colley.
The original poem was written by the poet Virgil in 29 and 19 BC (so, ages ago). At the time, it was interpreted as a piece of propaganda to reflect the ‘Greatness of Rome’ and emperor, Augustus, ‘This was a point of pride for the people of Rome’ says Dan. The epic sets out on the Mediterranean Sea. Aeneas and his Trojans flee Troy and sail for their final destination, Italy; to build the city of Rome. During this quest, Aeneas ‘the undefeatable hero’ takes on great adventure. He conquers the unconquerable, he finds true love in Dido– a beautiful Phoenician Princess– breaking her heart when the Gods remind him that he still has an entire city to construct. Such drama, and an ambitious undertaking for the young theatre company, ‘We like to take impossible projects like this, on small budgets and transform them for the stage’.
Dan explains how the play compliments their collective fascination with myth, ‘As people, we tell stories to ourselves, about ourselves. We chose what to tell people about our lives, our families, and who we are as people, who we are as a state. Every society above a certain size create stories, when a band becomes a tribe, and a tribe becomes a civilisation, telling stories about who we are as a community is a necessary part of coming together, we tell stories to give ourselves a sense of belonging, to help us feel safe’. I ask if the idea of creating propaganda and stories around the great heroism of a nation has any relevance to commemorative events for the centenary this year, ‘The idea was not directly related to events of the centenary this year, but I do feel like later on, it will have some resonance, it will have something that provokes a response from people’.
And why did they choose to tell this particular story? ‘I love the improbability of it all. It’s magic, it’s not real, you can take a cloth and turn it into a ghost, a stick and a piece of wood and it’s a boat, none of it is real, but it’s right there in front of you. There is no CGI, no pixel by pixel, most of the work is done by us. It still gives me a childlike thrill that stops my heart’. It is a joy to listen to Dan talking about this production; he discusses the concept with amazing passion ‘the play requires the audience to lean in a bit. They have to give themselves to it. With some forms of theatre you can sit back and watch at arms length. It requires people to suspend their disbelief’.
At the end of our chat, I ask Dan if he is in fact Peter Pan disguised as a theatre director, and jokingly he says; ‘Yes, I am Peter Pan, this is all part of my elaborate plan to whip people into frenzy for my own satisfaction’. He might be joking, but I’m quite happy lean in and to suspend my disbelief.
The Aeneid is the theatre company’s biggest show to date, it will be performed by John Doran; Manus Halligan; Karl Quinn; Aoife Leonard, Maeve O’Mahony. It will open at Smock Alley Theatre on September 14, 6.30pm. Other performances will take place from September 15 – 18 and 20 – 24 at 6.30pm. You can also catch the later showing on Septebmer 21 & 24 at 9pm. Tickets €11.